Harry Lamin: Internet Phenomenon and What We Can Learn

January 14, 2008

My Photo 

There is an internet phenomenon currently gathering half a million hits per day and media coverage all over the world  http://www.wwar1.blogspot.com/ is the letters from William Henry Bonser Lamin a soldier from World War 1. The “Blogger” is his grandson and with a stroke of true genius he is publishing the letters exactly 90 years to the day since they were written. It is a wonderful insight into the life of an ordinary soldier and his life in Word War 1 which has captured the imagination of millions all over the world.

I came across the Harry Lamin Blog when there was a story about it on Yahoo news. As I have recently posted some cards and telegrams from my Dad’s time as POW in Singapore on my blog I thought I would take a look.
I found a beautifully presented blog which is extremely evocative of it’s time. The photo’s and original documents draw you in to Harry’s world and the personal, intimate nature of the letters make you want to find out what happens next. As I’m sure you’ve seen from the comments many people are keen to share their stories of their relatives time during WW1 and WW2. As indeed I was when I discovered my Dad’s correspondence.
From my own point of view the 2 wars represent a time of honour, bravery and right among the ordinary people which is a complete opposite of the apathy of today. No claims for compensation, no claims for “Gulf War Syndrome” just an absolute belief in doing the right thing regardless of the cost. I truly believe the majority of people yearn for a return to traditional values but we are all swamped by the media rollercoaster that drives us further down the road to degredation, cruelty and apathy. Harry’s world and his letters give us a taste of another time, a time of war, poverty, death and illness but some of us believe (maybe a view through rose tinted glasses) that people were basically happier because they were not part of todays “want” culture and rampant consumerism. Having less choice left less chance for disappointment. A different version of the Buddhist 4 Noble Truths if you like.
There is also of course the basic intrigue of a great story. It’s like a soap opera and each letter is like the cliffhanger scene in any daytime soap that makes you desperate to find out what happens next and tune in to the next episode.
The internet will always throw up this kind of phenomenon and word of mouth and ready access to the internet makes The Harry Lamin Blog the perfect “Have you seen” for the workplace, the media and families. If I was a teacher I would certainly use this as a teaching aid,  far better than a boring text book.
I stated in my post on my dad’s time as a POW that that perod of time ask questions about todays society that could be saved for another day. Well this is that day.
It is inconceivable to believe that a time of world war could be perceived as a “better” time than 2008 but it depends on your perception of “better”.
Harry Lamin in WW1 and my dad Bill Ross in WW2 and millions like them fought for a cause they truly believed in with out question or hesitation. They were prepared to risk everything for what? I believe it was for their country, for their King, for their family, for God, for their identity and their Britishness. I know the racist police will claim that what I’m about to write is wrong but ask yourself a simple question. “Would you or your loved ones put their lives on the line today for their country, their queen, their family, their identity, their Britishness?” I would bet that some of you would agree with family, but the rest, I doubt it.
Harry and Bill were English in a time when being English meant something. They identified with their neighbours, they identified with every Englishman wherever they were in their country. They recognised the need to protect that identity, they were proud to be English and the German war machine was threat that was going to take that freedom away. They were prepared to give everything to keep what they knew for them, their famlies and future generations. How disappointed they would be to see being English in England something not to be celebrated but to be hidden away behind the threat of a racist accusation? The Cross of St George is banned in some cities as being inflammatory, St Georges day our national day is not celebrated for fear of upsetting non English and the only time it comes out is during the bi annual football tournaments (not this year obviously). We are being stripped of our identity without a fight or even a whimper. I understand immigration is a natural progression, evolution in action, we are a haven for any waif or stray from around the world, we have no need for a guilty conscience. We have done our bit and continue to do so regardless of the consequences.
In less than 100 years, the very thing that was fought for by so many over 2 wars has been eroded by government apathy and ineptitude. We are a country in decline, riddled by segregation not integration. The reason Harry’s blog is so popular is because it pricks peoples sub-conscious and reminds us of a time before the politically correct brigade convinced us all that identfying with your country, your history and your flag is wrong.
Long live Harry and Bill’s memory and long live everything they stood for and fought for.
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